I sit now, late in the evening, eyes heavy after a long night of changing diapers, filling bottles, and calming cries – followed by a long day of work, plus a little more work. My back is sore, my head is pounding, but I am okay with it all, it is worth it. But I can promise you it wasn’t an easy adventure to this point in my life – to this mental state.
As I write this, I am thirty-one years old…or young depending on how you look at it and/or feel that day. A father of two, a lovely daughter, and a budding baby boy (sorry any future children who aren’t on this planet quite yet). Just recently, I finally became okay with where I am at, who I am, what I do, and what I have done. It was a journey that took a lot of reflection, hard work, late nights, and determination to be the better person I can be. It also took a lot of finally being okay with the fact that I was struggling, and that I needed to figure out where to go and what to do – and recognizing something wasn’t quite right. It took courage, and a lot of support from my wife and family, but I made it.
These are all things I would like my children to hear from their father.
Over the course of my life, I have seen, witnessed, and endured a number of world-changing events that have shaped my life, just like many other Millennials. Including a terrorist attack, a housing market crash, a recession, a pandemic, another recession, and war. All things that the generation above me didn’t have to deal with until later in life, I handled all before I was twenty-nine. All things that shaped my generation and who we wanted to be/eventually became. Something that I truly feel crafted the person that I am today, and the person I enjoy being.
Looking back at all that I have seen and been through, I realize that I am an incredibly lucky man. I never struggled, have a great life, and a great family. But that doesn’t mean it was always sunshine and roses. In fact, I was struggling for quite a while, I just never realized it until I was staring it in the face.
My entire life, I have always been involved in so many projects that it’s hard to keep count. From photography, to radio, to writing, to podcasting – I have truly done it all. Really, I was keeping myself busy – doing anything I thought may lead to something, while never really going anywhere at all, at least how I came to see it. But I was young, adventurous, and the world seemed so open to me. And it was.
But after a while, after seeing and dealing with so many things no one had ever seen before, I soon became internally disillusioned about what I had accomplished in life, worried that I had really done nothing at all. The photos I took? Who cared. The books I wrote? Doesn’t matter. It all seemed so valueless compared to the world around me. It seemed as if I had thrown everything away to follow a passion that had no substance at all, like everyone around me had purpose and meaning – and I was just floating by, doing things that, really, anyone else could do. And it took a serious turn when the pandemic hit, and I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Suddenly, I was thrown into a world where I didn’t provide anything worthwhile at all. Or at least that’s how I perceived it.
It was at this point when I really realized how much the world around me affected my perception of reality, and how it was tearing me down.
In 2001, I was eleven years old. The moment those towers came down, I never again saw the country around me not at war again – constantly being bombarded with messaging about the heroes of our military (which they are). Then in 2008, just as I was ending high school, the country went into a free-fall, and suddenly only the most mandatory careers survived, and if you weren’t in that group, you better find something else to do.
Then came 2020.
It was supposed to be a year of jubilee for me and my family – my daughter arrived in January. But again, as life had had it, there would be yet another world-changing event only one month later, the granddaddy of them all. The COVID Pandemic.
Yet again, and again, I was thrust into a world where what I did suddenly REALLY didn’t matter, because in reality…it physically didn’t. I wasn’t saving lives, I wasn’t essential to the operation of the world around me – I was just…here. Yet again, ingrained in my psyche was that what I did was inconsequential, at least in the grand scheme of things. I feel this is when things really started to deteriorate.
I was a twenty-nine-year-old new father, my wife and I had no clue what we were doing, I was sleep-deprived and panicked. And all of a sudden we had to do it in a world where we couldn’t see anyone, do anything, or even continue with our normal lives. What I did, didn’t matter, and I was in a free-fall.
It was one of the most difficult times of my life, and one of the biggest tests I had to ever face. A culmination of something that I didn’t even realize had been brewing for almost three decades. A battle of myself versus the world that I didn’t even know I was fighting, but here I was.
It was at this point that I knew I had to fight back, claw my way out of the path I was headed down, and be more open about what I was going through and what I was struggling with. Thankfully, I have the most supportive wife in the world, who encouraged me to work my way out of what I was going through – and I will forever be grateful. This eventually lead to me improving my artistic skills even more, refining what I did, and pushing ahead.
I am not sure when I turned the corner, when I finally became okay with who I am, and what I do with my life – my creative endeavors that months ago were “nonessential.” But I am glad I did, and I am glad that I slowly came to the realization that what I do DOES make a difference, and it does matter. People don’t always admit it, but this world needs art, creativity, and something outside of the gears and bolts of what keeps things moving, and I will forever be happy to provide that. Something not everyone can.
From all of this, there are a few things that I want my kids to hear from their own father.
Life is truly a weird thing. You will have plenty of ups, and just as many downs. You will feel elated, and sometimes worthless entirely. But none of that matters if you love who you have become, and who you are. You can truly do anything in this world, and you should. Never be afraid to do anything because it is a “waste of time.” There is no such thing if it’s something that you deem important, and brings you happiness.
You’re going to come across a lot of trying situations, ones that will test you to your core – but nothing is impossible to overcome if you believe and trust in yourself, and have confidence that you’re doing the right thing. And while it may not seem like it at the time, it will always be the right decision.
No matter what you do, who you become, you will always be important, and you will always be a gift to the world around you. That goes for anyone. We all are here to bring a little life into this place we call Earth. And if that’s as simple as a short essay – so be it.
You never know who you will reach.